Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 35.djvu/17

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Defence of Petersburg.


Arriving at Jordan's Farm, we entered upon an open field extending from some hilly ground on our right over towards the river. A line of entrenchments thrown up at an earlier period of the war ran across this open space till they touched the riverside. It was now apparent we had to defend this line of works. As yet we had seen no sign of cannon or regular soldiers to reinforce our band of untried men, but we prepared ourselves for the worst that might happen.

It was understood that a night attack might be made, and as the shades of night drew on we were formed into line, and the command given : "Forward, men, into the trenches." It was the first signal to us to contribute our mite in deadly earnest to the war that was waging. That night we slept on our arms. Overcome by fatigue, our slumbers were profound.

During the night I heard the calm, authoritative voice of some general officer giving orders, but nothing happened to disturb our dreams. Fortunately, it was the balmy month of May, and which we had no canopy over our heads, save the blue vault of heaven, with its pyramids of stars looking down upon us, we suffered no ill effects from the exposure, though many had passed the meridian of life.

The enemy had not put in an appearance, and many succeeding days passed before we heard the sound of his guns. We were now told off into companies, and were regularly installed into camp life, drilled in company evolutions and exercised in the manual of arms. In the organization thus effected I found myself attached to Company B, Captain James E. Wolfe, second-class militia.


General Butler, however, made Richmond his objective point of attack, and not Petersburg. He soon found he had caught a Tarter in General Beauregard, and after the severe defeat he sustained at his hands, the military nerves of our modern Achilles were so unstrung that he had no stomach for any further fighting at that time. The "Richmond Examiner" of the day indeed